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Protesters Demand Lowering Of Russian Utility Fees

YEKATERINBURG, Russia -- Protesters in all of the major towns and cities of Russia's Sverdlovsk region, including the regional capital, Yekaterinburg, have rallied to demand the lowering of electricity and utility fees, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Demonstrators accused the Regional Energy Commission of a "reckless decision" to increase the fees as of January 1.

The protests were organized by the Sverdlovsk branch of Russia's A Just Russia party.

Russian Duma deputy Aleksandr Burkov told RFE/RL that the 21 percent increase in utility fees is too much. He accused the Regional Energy Commission of possibly colluding with energy producers.

The chairman of the Regional Energy Commission, Nikolai Podkopai, says the decision to raise the fees was reasonable and corresponded to the demands of the current economic situation.